Chest infections are either viral or bacterial infections of the airways of the lungs. Chest infection main symptoms include: a cough accompanied with phlegm or thick mucus, chest pain and breathing difficulties. Chest infections can be mild to life threatening.
Types of Chest Infection
· Acute Bronchitis
Acute Bronchitis is a short-lived infection. It is an infection of the bronchi of the lungs. It is more common than other types and is less serious. Virus usually causes the infection and is often followed by influenza or cold. Smoking increases the chance of having an infection. This type of infection does not require any medical attention because it usually subsides within 7 to 10 days.
Pneumonia is the inflammation of the alveoli or the air sacs in the lungs which causes your lung to be filled with fluid. Pneumonia is commonly caused by bacteria but it can also be caused by a virus. It is more serious than acute bronchitis and less common.
Mild pneumonia can be treated at home. People having severe pneumonia should be treated in the hospital. There are people susceptible to developing pneumonia. They are usually the very young and very old with other existing conditions. They develop pneumonia as a complication and this should be treated in the hospital.
Incidence of Chest Infection
The most common chest infection is the acute bronchitis which affects 4.5% of people in every country each year. It is usually common during winter and autumn.
Pneumonia only affects 1% of the population each year. People over 65 years of age have more risk in developing pneumonia and the rate is 4 times greater compared to other age group. Pneumonia is more common than acute bronchitis in winter and autumn months.
Acute bronchitis and Pneumonia are not contagious but it is still important to cover our nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Washing our hands regularly is important to prevent disease spread and contamination.
Acute bronchitis is self-limiting which means that our body can treat it without the need for medical treatment. The symptoms subside within 7 to 10 days.
The extent and severity of Pneumonia varies depending on the different factors involved that made the person vulnerable to infection. These factors include:
· People who are older than 65 years
· People who have weak immune system which are common to people who are in radiation and chemotherapy treatment or to people who have AIDS, cancer or any serious illness.
· A person who have COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which causes the person to have difficulty in breathing.
Depending on the risk factors involved, the probability that a person would die due to pneumonia ranges from 1% to 50%.
The common cause of death in England is Pneumonia among other infectious diseases with 29,000 deaths and most of them are in the age of 70.
Acute bronchitis doesn’t usually require any medical treatment
Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. Oral antibiotics or tablets are usually given in mild cases while antibiotics given intravenously are given in severe cases.